Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Rodger K. Bufford, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gale Roid, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ken Logan, Psy.D.


The relationship between language and cognition is an area of inquiry among many psychologists (Pellicano, 2010; Russel, 1996). The connection between thoughts, verbal language, and nonverbal communication turned researchers towards the relationship between language and executive functioning. Executive functioning (EF) is described as tasks involving working memory, inhibition, and set shifting (Miyake and Friedman (2012)). Despite studies demonstrating the correlation between language deficits and lower executive functioning there is not consensus on the directionality of the relationship (Kuhn, et al 2014; Boting et al., 2017). Data from the Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition (Leiter-3) (Roid, et al., 2013) were used to compare participants with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and participants who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, with the normative sample using hierarchical regression. Scores on four subtests (Figure Ground, Form Completion, Attention Divided, and the Stroop Test) focus on inhibition, set shifting, or both working memory and set shifting. ADHD and Hard of Hearing/Deaf groups have additional barriers on cognitive tasks due to lowered executive functioning or language ability, when compared to peers in the normative group. The nonverbal nature of the Leiter-3 removes the language barrier and highlights differences in EF abilities between groups independent of hearing and spoken language. Participants in the ADHD group should score lower on EF tasks than participants in the normative groups and lower than the deaf/hard of hearing group due to benefits from the mitigation of language requirements on the tasks required for these scales. Language is linked with working memory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1994) and therefore set shifting and language are also linked via executive functioning (Hooper et al., 2002). Preliminary analysis of variance between groups indicated significant differences between means for Figure Ground and Form Completion but not for Attention Divided or the Stroop Test. Hierarchical regression clarified several demographic factors which influenced the variance between groups. Age had significant impact, whereas primary diagnosis contributed no more than 5.1% to the overall variance. The small differences among diagnoses speaks to the validity of the Leiter-3; it provides results largely altered by impairment in hearing or executive functioning.